Disruptive D-Line dominating

Dating back to the second half versus Oklahoma, the Alabama defense--particularly the defensive line--has been very good. Last week the Tide limited a sound Southern Miss team to 145 net yards, including a measly 35 on the ground. <br><br>"These guys made me look like a genius for another week," said Defensive Line Coach Stan Eggen.

Eggen was laughing when he made the statement. He knows better than anyone that it's the players that make plays. But the Tide is currently ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, and even if he gets only partial credit for Bama's recent D-Line success, the Eggen family definitely deserves an early Christmas bonus.

Senior nose tackle Kenny King is playing like an All-Star.

"All season we've talked about disrupting the line of scrimmage, and I've been proud of the way we've come out and attacked," Eggen said. "We're shutting the running game down. We're getting off the ball quickly and moving well.

"We're able to disrupt the offense."

Heading into the season, Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione certainly hoped for this type performance. "This is what I expected at the beginning of the year," Franchione said following Saturday's victory over Southern Miss. "We got after their quarterback and did a good job against the run. That was a good performance by our defensive line.

"We're getting the quarterback off rhythm. We're making him throw with people in his face, and we're hitting him when he doesn't throw it. There having been too many uncontested throws."

After four games, Alabama totals 15 sacks for a loss of 98 yards. And the equally as important (if less publicized) stat for quarterback hurries totals an impressive 45. "As a unit we decided that we were going to race each other to the ball," explained defensive end Todd Bates. "Constant pressure is the big thing. I think that's what separates our D-Line from others across the country."

Whether it be making the sack or batting down attempted passes, Todd Bates has made a habit of harassing opposing quarterbacks.

Bama's other sophomore end, Antwan Odom, is beginning to dominate physically. "It's starting to be really fun out there," Odom said. "We try to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, to get him frustrated and get him uncomfortable."

With three each, Odom is tied with Kenny King for the quarterback sack lead. But eight players in all have at least one to their credit. "We've got a great depth chart," King said. "We'll go out and play, and then the second team will come in. We're deep at all the positions. That's going to help the starters out and the team as a whole."

King is one of three seniors starting for the Tide on the defensive line. His stat line includes 21 tackles, three sacks, two tackles for a loss, five quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Fellow seniors Kindal Moorehead and Jarret Johnson have 15 and 14 tackles respectively, including two sacks each.

Without question the three senior D-Linemen are the heart of the unit, but the play of several younger athletes has been just as important. "The last two to three weeks Anthony (Bryant), Ahmad (Childress), Nautyn (McKay-Loescher) and Antwan have really done a good job," Eggen pointed out. "And Todd Bates is stepping up as well. I'm very pleased with the rotation. You want everyone to play like a senior, but it takes experience and confidence. If they continue to play well, then it will allow us to continue to control the fourth quarter."

Sophomore tackle Ahmad Childress is starting to assert himself on the inside.

More than any other position on the field, a defensive lineman needs to go full speed on every snap. And in the fourth quarter the team with the freshest athletes will usually win.

"There is no let down from one player to the next," Eggen said. "It doesn't matter who is out there, we're still going to disrupt. That's starting to snowball. We're comfortable playing with eight men in the rotation. I'd like to get a ninth guy involved, but I just haven't had a chance to do that."

Individually Antwan Odom may be as good an athlete as Alabama has, but he understands the importance of continually attacking with fresh bodies. Odom explained, "We've got a good rotation. You might be in for four plays, and then the next four plays somebody else is in there while you're getting your wind back. You stay fresh.

"I think the defensive line can be great. We're going to be No. 1 in the country."

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